We didn’t even have 24 hours to mourn Alton Sterling, and here we are again, learning of another unjust death of a black man at hands of a police officer.

philandocastilePhilando Castile was a 32-year-old cafeteria worker at a Montessori school in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. He was pulled over for a busted tail light last night by an officer from the St. Anthony Police Department. The officer asked Philando to hand over his ID; Philando complied, and also informed the officer that he was licensed to carry a concealed weapon, and was carrying at the time. At this point, the officer fired 4 shots into the car.

Philando’s girlfriend, Lavish Reynolds, and her 4-year-old daughter, were in the car. Immediately after the shooting, Lavish begin recording the aftermath with Facebook Live. The video, which you can find online, shows Philando bleeding out, as Lavish narrates what just happened. The officer can be seen still pointing his weapon into the car, but seeming to panic, yelling curse words wildly.

Philando Castile did not deserve to die. He committed no crime. He did nothing wrong. In fact, he did exactly what we hear constantly black men are supposed to do in encounters with police: he was calm, he followed orders, he informed the officer he was a concealed carrying. And yet, despite following all the things he was told he was supposed to do to avoid being killed, Philando Castile was still killed.

The problem in America is not wild young black men. The problem in encounters between police and black men and women is not the black men and women. The problem is that black lives are not valued like white lives. Black lives are feared, and considered dispensable.

In the video, we see an officer who is panicky and terrified and out of control. If you are a police officer, and you are terrified of being a police officer and doing police officer things (like routine traffic stops) then you should consider a new career. Police officers have a duty, to protect the lives of citizens. You can’t do that if you are so afraid of your fellow citizens that you are willing to kill them as a first option.

I keep writing these posts about Black Lives Matter and police violence, and I want to clarify something. I’m a straight white man. I have every privilege and opportunity. I don’t fear for my life when I see a police officer. I don’t write these things claiming to speak for the black community, or to say I can fully comprehend or understand the fear they live with.

I write these things as an attempt to be a conscience to white folks. Because it seems to me that, for far too many white people in America, these kinds of injustices just don’t matter. Too many people who look like me just don’t care, don’t get it, or even worse, automatically defend the white police officer.

That’s what I’ve seen constantly since writing about Alton Sterling yesterday. Too many white men and women on social media ridiculing a dead man, finding reasons to justify his death, practicing dehumanization. What I wrote yesterday is 100% accurate:

The racists and apologists out there will begin throwing these things out there, to distract attention from the clear actions shown in a cell phone video of what happened. They will trot out his past mug shots, and other pictures that emphasize his blackness. They will call him a thug. They will call him a criminal. They will blame him for his own death.They will say these things to dehumanize Alton Sterling, to make his death unimportant, to make him seem like a danger to society. They will do this to ease their own consciences of the guilt of being a proponent of a system that destroys black bodies.

So, white folks, how do you defend the officer in Falcon Heights, Minnesota? What will it take for you to wake up and realize that real, actual human beings are being killed every damn day, and for you to actually care that this is happening? What will it take for you to stop defending injustice and murder, and instead call on our nation to begin respecting black lives, valuing them, letting them live?

Yesterday, we saw Jesus bleeding out in a parking lot in Baton Rogue, Louisiana. Today, we saw Jesus dying in the passenger seat of his car in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. Where will we see Jesus being crucified tomorrow? And will we even know or care?

13 thoughts on “#PhilandoCastile

  1. Your thoughtful, intelligent posts shine a light on many issuws of our day, Justin. Thank you for being a voice to so many who can’t even begin to put it into words.


    1. Justin, delete this troll. He’s not worth it. I have a friend who tried to deal with trolls for a long time and came to the conclusion, ” Oh,**** ’em.” They suck up energy and good will like a black hole. Delte ’em, block ’em, and move on.


      1. So, the whole “love your enemy” thing doesn’t include those who challenge your ideology.

        Interesting you can call names and curse; but have no response to the facts as they are presented.

        Curious, can you answer this: Is this cop guilty until proven innocent? Or is the assumption of his state of mind based on your ideological narrative enough to convict him until he proves himself innocent? I think the problem you will have is that your ideological narrative is such that the officer can never be proven innocent regardless of facts. Wonder where Jesus stands on such an issue?

        God gave us all a mind with the ability to reason. As a blessing from God, were are to use it to His glory. Perpetrating a lie (ie guilty until proven innocent) stand at odds with that blessing.


      2. Haha, as much as I would like to, I don’t really do blocking unless they violate a rule. Obnoxious as he may be, he has every right to rant and rave here. I think everybody else see’s it for what it is.


      1. Interesting that you have little trouble smearing the cop. Identifying him as a some sort of bigot, part of a racist system out to oppress blacks. Defaming him and all police without a pronouncement of guilt. Especially in light of the truth that it is police doing more to protect black lives and their black communities than any blogger or member of BLM.


      2. Nope, again, I never said anything about this cop; I said “it’s about a racist system of policing.” That is not a commentary on individuals; its about a system. Which is why I said “system.”


      3. Really? You made the following statements about the cop:

        “The problem is that black lives are not valued like white lives. Black lives are feared, and considered dispensable.”

        “Police officers have a duty, to protect the lives of citizens. You can’t do that if you are so afraid of your fellow citizens that you are willing to kill them as a first option.”

        “What will it take for you to stop defending injustice and murder, and instead call on our nation to begin respecting black lives, valuing them, letting them live?”

        So…….Please provide evidence to support your claim that this officer thought black lives are dispensable.

        Please provide evidence to support your claim that this cop was afraid of fellow citizens and that he thought killing them was his first option.

        Please provide evidence to support your claim that this police officer murdered Philando. (To take a life and murder are to different things, please explain how you know it was one and not the the other)

        You have no proof for any of this beyond your ideological worldview and a video taken after the incident. Which is no different than the article I presented. Yet mine is smear and yours is……..truth? I think they call that closed minded.


      4. You’re not listening. I said “racist systems.” There is a distinction I’m trying to make, between a racist system and indidvidual officers who may or may not be personally racist. You can be non-racist and still be part of a racist system. In fact, we all live in one. Neither of those quotes says anything about the personal motivations around race of that cop. I don’t think it is outside reason to posit that the cop was in fear, having watched the video and listened to the officer. Have you watched the video yet?


      5. It is intellectually simple to demonize an abstract entity. It absolves you from ever having to justify your position. You can move the metaphorical goal posts whenever you need. For example, you can claim that cop murdered someone in cold blood and claim he was filled with fear; but never have to provide proof for either statement because your straw man entity fills the gaps. The cop held the gun, but it was the system that pulled the trigger.


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